Misuse or negligence of a government-owned vehicle can lead to no less than a one-month suspension without pay, according to Army Regulation 58-1.
White Sands Missile Range Chief of Staff Glen Adams said new measures are being implemented that will allow them to take a closer look at misuse of GOVs within the installation. The new program, that will soon be in effect, will help monitor and document when misuse occurs in order to reprimand accordingly. Government employees who are caught may face a harsher punishment than a 30-day suspension, if the circumstances warrant the action.
“Government vehicles should only be used to conduct government business,” Adams said. “Anything else is a misuse of taxpayer’s hard-earned money. The new program will allow us to directly reprimand for misuse of GOVs in a more efficient and effective manner.”
Adams said they continue to receive complaints and reports of misuse without contact information of the person who initially filed the report or a license plate number of the GOV in question. It is important to report both your contact information and the GOV license plate number whenever you observe and report misuse.
“It is difficult to validate the issue without further information,” he said. “Having this information in the future will truly help us track down the incidents.”
Alonzo Moore, WSMR chief of transportation division, said the biggest issues he has seen stems from contractors who are authorized a GOV and may not be receiving the training and guidance required to operate a GOV. The most common reportable offense is taking the GOV to an unauthorized location or to a private residence after work.
“They are not aware of the rules and there is no oversight,” Moore said. “Supervisors should tell personnel what the rules are and ensure they take the GOV training required for government employees. It appears they aren’t telling them what they can and cannot do.”
Moore recommends police officers conduct random dispatch checks on GOVs at the gates to see if the individual is authorized to be operating a GOV. He said he has seen it done before and has seen positive constraint results. He said he understands the various impacts it will have on manpower, however, it would serve to significantly reduce the probability of GOV misuse and the unauthorized dispatch of GOVs.
Adams said he has taken the time to visit the El Paso Gate and will continue to do so on a regular basis but sometimes perception is not always what it seems. He said at times GOVs coming through the gate as early as 6 a.m. and departing within an hour with the same occupants are licensed to Fort Bliss, Texas, and are not WSMR personnel.
“We have not coordinated with Fort Bliss, however, we assume that they are supporting range activities and not breaking any laws,” Adams said. “We haven’t specifically followed them to see where they go, but there are plenty acceptable reasons for them to be on the installation.”
Karin Murray, WSMR supervisory transportation operation specialist said drivers are responsible for ensuring that the government vehicle will only be used for official use. Official use can only be defined as the location where an employee’s presence is required for official business.
According to the regulation, GOV restrictions include: GOVs being used when the sole justification is determined by rank, position, prestige or personal convenience; transportation to private social functions, personal errands or side trips, for unofficial purposes or transportation of dependents or visitors without an accompanying official. It also states that GOVs will not be used for the purpose of conducting personal business or engaging in other activities of a personal nature.
Items like headphones and cell phones are not allowed to be used when driving a GOV. Drivers and passengers are also not allowed to smoke in a GOV. GOV drivers must also always have proof of licensing and have taken required training before driving a GOV. WSMR, State, and local traffic regulations also apply to GOV drivers.
“These are all important guidelines to follow,” Murray said.
To learn more about proper government vehicle use, visit Army Regulation 385-10 (The Army safety Program), and Army Regulations 58-1 (Management, Acquisition, and Use of Motor Vehicles).